Thursday, January 28, 2016

Just Why Does A Practitioner Registration Organisation Need Metadata Access? Short Answer It Doesn’t Without A Warrant!

These reports appeared last week:

Medical watchdog trawling metadata 'jeopardises patient privacy'

Having power to examine doctors’ phone records without a warrant would pose an excessive use of regulatory powers, consumer advocacy group says
The Consumers Health Forum says it is concerned that Australia’s medical watchdog is on a list of agencies that have applied to the attorney general to be classified as “criminal law-enforcement agencies”.
On Wednesday it was revealed the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency may gain warrantless access to the telecommunications data of health practitioners being investigated for professional misconduct, such as having sex with their patients.
Ahpra had such powers until October, when the government passed its mandatory data retention laws. Agencies were required to reapply for access to the data and the agency was one of 61 organisations to do so. According to its annual report, it used the powers 22 times last year and 23 times in 2014.
But the chief executive of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said allowing Ahpra the power to access the metadata of health practitioners under investigation would jeopardise patient privacy because all patients seen by that doctor would be encompassed by the metadata.
“Ahpra [having] power to examine phone records of doctors thought to have had sex with their patients without a warrant would pose an excessive use of regulatory powers which would be of concern to many patients,” Wells said.
“This would make possible the routine use of unchallenged powers to trawl doctor’s phone records with the potential also for patient privacy to be invaded.”
Wells questioned why Ahpra would not apply to the relevant court for authorisation to access a doctor’s metadata, and why warrantless powers were necessary.
More here:
and some more here:

Metadata sought by agency to investigate doctors who have sex with patients

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency one of 61 agencies seeking warrantless access to telecommunications information
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency has used metadata to investigate ‘allegations of boundary violations between patients and practitioners’, according to a spokeswoman. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian
The government agency overseeing doctors, dentists and chiropractors has applied to regain warrantless access to Australians’ phone and web metadata to help it investigate whether medical practitioners are sleeping with their patients.
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) is one of 61 agencies on a list released by the government who have applied to the attorney general, George Brandis, for ongoing access to be classed as enforcement agenciesto gain warrantless access to telecommunications data.
They were removed from a list of agencies that could access the information from telecommunications companies with the advent of the government’s mandatory data retention laws.
While Brandis insisted data retention would only be used to gather evidence on serious crimes, a provision was created to allow other agencies to reapply for access to the information. The provision contains no requirement that these agencies must be investigating serious criminal law offences.
More here:
And then we read this….

AHPRA seeks ruling on access to doctors' metadata

Paul Smith | 20 January, 2016 |  
The Federal Government is to decide whether AHPRA will retain its power to access Australians’ phone and web metadata when investigating doctors.
The watchdog says it had written to the Attorney-General for advice on whether it should continue to access telecommunications data without a warrant under the government’s controversial metadata laws.
The government’s changes to metadata laws last October meant that some 60-plus agencies effectively lost their ability to access the data unless they made a formal application to the Attorney-General.
AHPRA said the information was often needed when investigating “boundary violations between patients and [health] practitioners”.
“While still likely to be professional misconduct, demonstrating that a sexual relationship commenced during the treatment period is an aggravating factor,” an AHPRA spokeswoman said.
She added: “In a current case we are asking the practitioner to explain the significant volume of calls passing between her and the patient during the treatment relationship.
“Her legal counsel has indicated that she is likely to concede that a personal relationship had developed at the time, however did not become sexual until after the treatment relationship ended.
More here:
My take is that APHRA has a boundary issue - and that is that they are not a CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIVE AGENCY and as such if they want access they should seek a warrant. Remember both parties have not done anything criminal and both are being trolled,
It is bad enough all the snoops can poke around in your life but when registration agencies get involved it has all gone too far. Remember we are talking doctors, nurses, physios etc. etc. so they can sneak around looking at a very large number of people and their contacts.
I am not sure I signed up for a country like this. Fighting terrorism is one thing - this is something totally different!

1 comment:

Terry Hannan said...

David, I was not aware of these publications however as I read your postings I had more than a slight shudder down my spine. Your statements re a Regulatory versus a Criminal Investigatory organisation seem very apt. I need to read some more about this. Thank you for your investigative journalism.